New trends in civic journalism and new training opportunities for
journalists marked 1998, the fourth year of the James K. Batten Awards for
Excellence in Civic Journalism.
The winners were notable examples of how civic journalism is evolving. They
demonstrated the diversity of approaches in involving citizens in reporting
difficult issues. They tackled tough public policy choices surrounding the
issues. And they helped to engage the public in solving the problems.
For the first time, this year, the awards ceremony and accompanying
symposium were hosted by a journalism school, the Medill School of
Journalism at Northwestern University. The symposium provided an
opportunity for students, faculty and working journalists in the Chicago
region to learn about new developments and the newest thinking in civic
Participants heard some of the nation's top civic journalists explain how
they were advancing their work. Symposium speakers Jennie Buckner, editor
of The Charlotte Observer, Steve Smith, editor of The Gazette in Colorado
Springs, Frank Denton, editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison,
John Miller, News Director of WFAA-TV, Dallas, and others discussed why
they think journalism needs to change. And they shared some of the
innovations that are changing journalistic thinking and practices in their
They hope, as Jennie Buckner says, to leave a legacy that is about more
than enticing readers into rubbernecking. They hope to create a journalism
that is meaningful for the future.
The Pew Center for Civic Journalism will continue to reach out to
journalism schools around the country to make the annual Batten events
major educational opportunities for journalists across the country as well
as venues for discussing how to advance good journalism.
We present to you the 1998 James K. Batten Awards and Symposium, "News
Futures: Civic Innovations in Reporting."